Container volumes at the Port of Singapore hit an 11-year high in 2021, up 1.6% year-on-year

Strong points

Strong demand pushes annual volumes up

Dec throughput down due to holiday slowdown

Congestion, delays continue

Container volumes at the Port of Singapore were recorded at 37.5 million twenty-foot equivalent units in 2021, the highest annual volumes in the Port Authority database, as of 2011.

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Volumes rose 1.6% year-on-year, according to preliminary data released by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore on January 13. However, container throughput at the port in December was down 2.2% year-on-year.

A freight forwarder based in the country said the situation at the port “is not improving; delays and traffic jams persist.

“The turnaround time remains high, but the only change is that customers have planned their shipments better. So they don’t worry about waiting and complaining as much as before.”

As port operations across Asia continue to suffer from rising coronavirus infections and logistical challenges, the impact is being felt at major transshipment ports like Singapore, sources said.

Singapore has always been proactive in preparing the right resources to anticipate any increase in volumes, said a Singapore-based exporter. “There will always be limits to the number of resources you can pour into overcoming any potential congestion issues. But our ports are still quite efficient thanks to years of effort to automate and optimize it.”

According to MPA data, while container volumes at the port were the highest since 2011, the number of container ship arrivals at the port fell further to 13,391 in 2021 from 15,613 in 2020, and the lowest since 2011 (19,290).

“Empty carrier departures have added to the disruption from COVID infections and so far there is no relief in sight,” a Southeast Asia-based source said.

Platts Container Rate 25 – Southeast Asia to the East Coast of North America – was rated at $11,000/FEU on January 13, and PCR 23 – Southeast Asia to the West Coast of North America – was valued at $10,000/FEU.

For all-inclusive reservations, Platts heard premium rates of $18,000-$19,000/FEU for Southeast Asia to the East Coast of North America and between $15,000-18,000 $/FEU for the west coast.

Demand remains high and any relief in rates or equipment availability is unlikely even after the Chinese New Year, the Singapore-based freight forwarder said.

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